Tag Archive: Excuses

Shatter Your Limitations – Leaving Your Mitzrayim

What Will You Do With Your Freedom?

 

What would you like to be?  What would you like to do? So nu, what are you waiting for?

 

Yeh, if only life were that simple…

 

           “I can’t because I have no time”;

           “I can’t because I have no money”;

           “I can’t because I have no control” (of my food, of my job, of my family);

           “I can’t because I have no support” (of friends, of family, of coworkers, of supervisors);

           “I can’t because I have no will or ability” (to do what is necessary).

 

Does any of this sound familiar? How do these excuses appear to you? Unbreakable shackles? Overwhelming obstacles?

 

Mitzrayim, the land from which we were redeemed, literally means “borders” or “boundaries”. In fact, ancient Egypt prided itself on its exclusivity and superiority; they had everything they needed, and there was no need or desire to leave its borders. Its workers were both physically and emotionally trapped, with no will or thought of escape. This was the land in which our nation developed. After two centuries of gradual constriction, we became slaves with a slave mentality, inured to our state of being, unable to make a difference in our own destiny. We blamed others for our downfall, we blamed others for our failures, we blamed others for our inability to pull ourselves back up.

 

Some of us, unfortunately, have not changed much in nearly three and a half thousand years. “I can’t because I have no…”? You need something from someone else before you can move forward? Why? What have YOU done to alleviate your misfortune? What have YOU done to attain your goals? We blame our parents, our coworkers, our boss, our spouse, and the list goes on… Enough! Change starts with YOU, not anyone else. If you don’t surround yourself with inspiring motivating supportive people, time to move on and find a new place to call “home”. In the end, your power can only come from within and from Above, nowhere else; you must use your abilities and your intellect to make it happen, and to find people who can help you make it happen yourself – the strength must come from you. Be intrinsically motivated and driven, not extrinsically pulled and cajoled.

 

When Hashem gave us the freedom to escape Mitzrayim, he gave us the ability to break through our own boundaries and limitations. But most people don’t push themselves hard enough. Most people don’t do what it takes to realize their God-given potential. Laziness is not an excuse; “I have no…” is not an excuse. What have you sacrificed to achieve your goals? Where are your priorities?

 

“If only life were that simple…”? The truth is, at the end of the day, life is that simple, and only our excuses complicate it. It’s time to shed the slave mentality.

 

When your body is tired, push a little more; when your mind is weak, push a little longer; when your will is drained, push a little further. Always press your limits. If you don’t, you’ll never know how much you can attain and of how much you’re truly capable. Always push against your own “Mitzrayim”.

 

Every day, be a better person than you were the day before, spiritually, physically, emotionally, financially, and intellectually. Progressive development, as I’ve written before, allows you to take small steps each day to achieve your goals. Your only deadline is your “deadline”, so don’t procrastinate – as long as you move forward every day, striving to do better today than you did yesterday, with the ultimate goal of being better tomorrow than you are today, one day, with Hashem’s grace, you will realize your potential.

 

We weren’t put here to just be, we were put here to become. This isn’t a fanciful philosophical notion, this is our chiyuv. A day without trying to improve oneself and/or one’s environment is a day wasted.

 

We ALL have this ability, each with our own strengths. Inspire yourself, inspire others. After all, look who led us out of Egypt: an 80-year old stuttering little brother; a humble fugitive who, ultimately, found his calling and realized his own abilities.

 

Freedom means the ability to choose – so choose wisely… what are you going to do with your freedom?

 

 

No More Excuses – Part III: “But I Hate Exercising…”

 

Making Workouts Feel Less Like Work

 

I’m going to let you into a little secret, one that you might find surprising, given the fact that I’m a personal trainer:  I don’t like exercising. In fact, I’d much rather curl up on the couch with a good book and a hot cup of tea.  So how do I find the will to get up at 4:30 every morning to work out?  How do I make exercising fun and enjoyable; something for which I want to get out of bed? Here are 8 ideas that will hopefully inspire you, and keep you moving during these short cold days:

 

1)    GOALS: Set small, medium, and long term attainable goals for yourself; if you’re unsure what goals are realistic and which are a little “overzealous”, do some research, or simply drop me a line. Rejoice in your successes, and reward yourself when you reach a goal (although preferably NOT with food). Buy yourself something nice after losing X lbs; take a day off after exercising consistently over a set period of time; go on a small vacation once you’ve dropped X inches around your hips or waist. Work hard and play hard.

 

2)    FRIENDSHIP: Some people prefer social interaction when they exercise and some people prefer solitude. If exercising with friends will spur you and keep you on track, there are many ways nowadays to find an exercise partner or group and keep each other motivated, both on- and off-line.  Working out with friends, or engaging in another physical pursuit or sport with your peers, is often enjoyable and enthusing. Each encourages the other; each inspires the other.

 

3)    MUSIC: Put a few playlists together, making sure the tempo is fast enough, and enjoy exercising to your favorite songs. Let the rhythm move you. When you think you can’t go on any more, your body willing to give up, just push yourself to the end of the next song.

 

4)    LEARN: Be twice as productive. Exercise while listening to a shiur. Better yet, set yourself a goal of completing a set of shiurim or even daf yomi, and nourish your neshamah as you exercise your guf. You can also watch or listen to lectures (check out www.thegreatcourses.com).

 

5)    PLAY: On the other hand, if you fancy something a little less “cerebral”, with the advent of Hulu.com and Netflix, as well as “old school” DVDs, you can put on your favorite show or a good movie and lose yourself for a while. If you don’t finish the movie or have more episodes to watch, there’s the added incentive to exercise again and finish what you were watching.

 

6)    VARIETY: Mix up your workout routines. Don’t repeat a workout so often that it gets stale. Try different exercises. Switch around your exercise order. Your options are only limited by your creativity and imagination.

 

7)    EXPERIENCE: Try different cardio options. There’s more to life than the treadmill. Try rowing, cycling, stair climbing, or the elliptical. Try interval training, yoga, Zumba, Pilates, kickboxing, hip hop classes (I did this one myself last year, it was great), or sports you can play inside such as basketball or 5-a-side soccer. Sign up for a “bootcamp” training session. Get out of your comfort zone and try something new.

 

8)    APPRECIATE: Finally, although winter is coming, start thinking about the spring now. Get out more. Try bike riding, hiking, running, sports, or even surfing; the list goes on and on. Aside from the exercise, the fresh air is healthy for you too. Take time to “smell the roses” and appreciate this amazing world Hashem has created for us.

 

Most importantly, remember, you’re exercising to be healthy; do it for yourself – turn off your cell phone, ask your spouse to look after the kids (or get up half an hour earlier before they wake up), and treat yourself to some “alone time”. You deserve it.

 

When you’re done, take an additional few minutes to care for your body and purify your soul’s wondrous instrument; no shower feels as good as the one that is earned.

No More Excuses – Part II: Surrounded By Nosh

More Reasons Not To Give Up

 

Last post I discussed that having a lack of time and a lack of support can be two reasons why it’s sometimes difficult to reach our health and fitness goals. This week, I’d like to examine another common excuse, and see if we can’t, instead, use it as a tool to help us achieve our objectives.

 

SURROUNDED BY NOSH AT HOME/WORK: Pizza day at work? Your co-worker decides to treat the whole office to the leftovers from their weekend birthday party? Your spouse believes that always keeping packets of cookies on hand in the house is vital, just in case there’s a blackout? Here in the affluent west, we’re all surrounded by a continual barrage of alluring unhealthy indulgences. It’s so easy to make unwise choices, especially when everyone around us makes those same poor choices. So how can we fight the tide? How can we muster the self-control and discipline to “choose life”?

 

First of all, once you’ve made the healthy decision to make healthier decisions, and have stocked up on more nutritious alternatives, make a clean sweep of your kitchen and pantry (and anywhere else you may have a ‘stash’). All you need to do after that is stop walking down the cookie aisle in the supermarket. Does that mean you’ll never eat another cookie or piece of cake again? No, of course not, nor should it be, and we’ll discuss more about that in a subsequent issue, but for now, simply know that it’s far more challenging to make better food choices when familiar temptations continue to be so readily available.

 

One of the biggest excuses I hear regarding people’s ‘questionable’ food choices is “there was nothing else to eat”, especially if you’re in unfamiliar surroundings; well that’s easy enough to change: Think ahead. Always think ahead, always have healthful foods with you, or at the very least, healthier alternatives to the more deleterious enticements we’re all inevitably faced with from time to time. Don’t wait until you’re hungry before wondering what there is to eat; inevitably, the only foods that are easily obtainable in those pivotal instances are not ideal, to say the least. Instead, plan ahead and prevent the ‘surprise’ of ‘having’ to have an unhealthy snack. I suggest preparing your meals in advance, several at a time in separate containers that you can grab from the fridge whenever you need them. Before you go out, even if you’re not hungry at that moment, grab an apple or a handful of nuts for later, just in case there aren’t any healthy alternatives at your destination. 

 

Finally, learn to say ‘no’; don’t give in to social or familial pressure. Admittedly, we’re all affected by foods differently; so ultimately, you must make the right choices for your own body. For some people, though, sugar and fat can feel just as addictive as drugs; a fact that is sometimes difficult to comprehend by those people who don’t share those same intense cravings.

 

At the end of the day, then, only you can control what goes into your mouth; it is only your own reflection with which you must contend. You are stronger than that piece of cake.

No More Excuses – How to Circumvent Your Yetzer Hara

The Art of Discipline

 

By now, Rosh Hashana and Succot may seem like a distant memory. Alas, however, as you look down, perhaps some added girth may remind you otherwise; perhaps your frame feels weak and unhealthy?  It’s now time to do something about it. Last post we started thinking about what we’d like to achieve physically; we listed the reasons we’ve been unable to get there thus far, and the motivations for setting our goals.

 

We’d all like to live longer and live better; after all, the healthier we are, the better we can serve Hashem. So what’s stopping us? Simply put… our attitudes. Our attitudes dictate our priorities, and out of our priorities flow our excuses. Excuses plague our lives; they stop us from doing what we really want to do, what we should be doing, what we must be doing. 

 

Changing one’s attitude, however, is harder than you’d think. There’s a reason 70% of people who begin a workout regimen quit soon after starting. Their attitudes are built on flimsy foundations. Instead, then, we’re going to reverse engineer the solution. We’re going to target our excuses, and rearrange our priorities. Once we’ve done that, our attitudes will follow.

 

How do we crush our excuses? We must learn to outsmart ourselves, which, ironically, is increasingly harder the more intelligent you are. Just like the concept of muktza, though, once we learn to plan ahead and put up fences around our demons, self-control and self-mastery follow. If we prevent our excuses from ever showing up, they’ll be unable to stop the party.

 

Let’s take a look at two of the more common excuses, with some of my suggestions to thwart them:

 

DON’T HAVE TIME: Try getting up half an hour earlier and workout before the day even begins; it’ll start your whole day on a positive note, and working out on an empty stomach burns more calories from fat. Don’t have half an hour to spare? Do 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening. Try going for a brisk walk during your lunch break. If you have half an hour to surf the web, watch TV, talk with friends, or any of the other myriad “very important” activities we all do to relax and ‘unwind’, consider, for a moment, the reasons you’d like to be healthier in the first place; then revisit just how important that ‘relaxation’ really is …

 

NO SUPPORT FROM FRIENDS/FAMILY: Insert yourself into a healthy environment by surrounding yourself with a support system; search for a pre-existing group, or make yourself the center of your inspiration. Try an on-line group. Get together with friends and start your own group. I recently heard of a family (including parents, children, grandparents, and siblings) who’ve started their own “Biggest Loser” competition, each putting in $100 to the ‘pot’, with gift cards every week for the person who loses the most weight that week, followed by a grand weigh-in just before Chanuka for the remainder of the money. Sometimes, your inspiration must come from within. Always ask yourself why you want to be healthier; at the end of the day, with all the support in the world, the battle is always your own.

 

In future articles, we’ll discuss other familiar hurdles we all encounter, and offer ideas to not leap over them, but to find ways to avoid them all together. We’ll talk about what to do if you continually find yourself surrounded by nosh at home or work; finding ways to enjoy exercise when just the thought of getting off the couch makes you cringe; and learning that it’s ok to continue enjoying the foods you love to eat.  If you have any other suggested topics or questions you’d like discussed, feel free to e-mail me.

 

We all have obstacles that often appear overwhelming. You’re not alone. I can almost guarantee others have shared your pain. Together, and with Hashem’s good grace, we can pierce the barriers that hold us back, preventing us from reaching our true potential, and flourish to be the best we can be. You CAN succeed. You CAN accomplish your goals. Is the choice anyone else’s?